Uncommon Measure


224 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $17.99
ISBN: 9781942658979


ISBN: 9781942658986

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“Hodges undertakes a captivating study of the science of time—physics and music—in this very special memoir that defies categorization.”


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“Uncommon and genre-defying.”

Alexandra Jacobs, New York Times

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Kat Chow, New York Times Book Review

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“[Uncommon Measure] will resonate with both music and science lovers alike, who will appreciate the bridges Hodges draws between scientific disciplines, music theory and her life.”

Shi En Kim, Smithsoniam Magazine

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“Hodges considers the elemental truth pulsating beneath our experience of music and of our very lives.”

Maria Popova, Marginalian

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“This is one those rare books that inspires one to go back time and again to re-read a sentence simply because of the elegance and penetrating insight with which it is written. . . . Unputdownable.”

Julian Haylock, The Strad

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Uncommon Measure is a memoir in essays, but twists the genre by infusing it with neuroscience, physics and intoxicating descriptions of music. . . . Relatable and elegant. . . . An enchanting look into the world of classical music and beyond.”

Hana Zittel, Birdy magazine

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“With carefully wrought lyricism, Hodges provides music history and mature insight.”

Martha Anne Toll, Electric Literature

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Uncommon Measure is an uncommon book, both in topic and technique. . . . I couldn’t help falling in love with Natalie Hodges’ bittersweet nostalgia, dry wit, and seductive, ‘backstage pass’ point of view.”

Grace Utomo, International Examiner

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“Korean American violinist Hodges debuts with a literary mosaic of invention, inquiry, and wonder that interrogates classical music, quantum entanglement, the Tiger Mother stereotype, and the fluidity of time. . . . In restrained yet lyrical prose, Hodges . . . offer[s] a luminous meditation on the ways in which art, freedom, and identity intertwine. This impresses at every turn.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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“A masterful debut memoir from a classical violinist that covers far more than just music. . . . [Hodges’s] writing is deeply intelligent and exquisitely personal, expertly balancing emotional vulnerability with trenchant analysis, and her lyrical prose and clarity of thought render each page a pleasure to read.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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“Bridge[s] the time-space continuum in musical terms. . . . A book to savor.”

Shelf Awareness (starred review)

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“A dazzling look at memory and the universe. . . . Hodges ponders these puzzles with intellectual depth, unique perspectives, and an artistic, eloquent, and inspiring voice.”


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“Poignant. . . . [Uncommon Measure] makes a valuable contribution to the ever-expanding universe of works addressing science and music.”

Library Journal

“Natalie Hodges is a musician with a poet’s soul and a writer with a musician’s heart. Her prose partita, Uncommon Measure, is an extraordinary translation of music, devotion, and sorrow into the literary, recounting her relinquishment of a performance career and her continued love of music. In these pages, if no longer on the stage, she is brilliantly making us hear.”

Susan Faludi, author of Backlash and In the Darkroom

Uncommon Measure is astonishingly assured and inventive. Mixing personal reflection, reportage, literary criticism, music theory, neurology, even evolutionary studies, Hodges has pulled off something singular and wonderful. From the first page to the last, the book rides on the high wire of Hodges’s virtuosic voice. It is shot through with a sinuous, luminous energy.”

Darcy Frey, author of The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams 

“There is not a sentence in Hodges’s Uncommon Measure that does not illumine, not a single insight that doesn’t lead on to a still greater one, not a moment that does not open us to wonder. In searching and visionary prose, Hodges comes close to creating a new language, one of continual questioning and delight. This is an exquisite book to be read and reread, a treasure.”

Richard Hoffman, author of Half the House and Love & Fury

“Hodges is a new, valuable voice in the world of music making and music writing. She moves with elegance from her own experience as a violinist to the scientific underpinnings of her subject: from math, physics, and neurology to quantum mechanics, biology, and entanglement theory. Uncommon Measure is a welcome debut from a wonderfully talented writer.”

Annik LaFarge, author of Chasing Chopin

“I thoroughly enjoyed falling into this memoir of life as a gifted, aspiring violinist and her fascination with the science behind the music.”

Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore (Spokane, WA)

“[Hodges is] a writer with a breathless sense of wonder and a firm commitment to her arts, both literary and musical.”

Grace Harper, Mac’s Backs (Cleveland Heights, OH)

Uncommon Measure reveals the difficulty of being a concert violinist with severe stage fright. . . . [A] very, very good book.”

Roxanne Laney, Arts & Letters Bookstore (Granbury, TX)

“[A] remarkable memoir of a young violinist’s struggle with performance anxiety, her exploration of music and the science of time, and her path towards creating a life that includes her love of music, even if it doesn’t look the way she originally imagined. . . . I can’t wait for more people to have the transformative experience of reading Uncommon Measure!”

Laura Mills, Brazos Bookstore (Houston, TX)

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Uncommon Measure is a memoir like no other, and I think it is great for someone’s first memoir or their fiftieth.”

Patrick, Brazos Bookstore (Houston, TX)

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“A literary triumph that explores time, consciousness, and her own story, Natalie Hodges’s debut left me spellbound.”

Keith Mosman, Powell’s Books (Portland, OR)

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“Gifted violinist and insightful author Natalie Hodges asks some of the most interesting questions I’ve come across in a long while. . . . She manages to explore these matters while weaving in her own experiences with performance anxiety, the pressures of ambition, and difficult family dynamics.”

Rebecca Traver, Paradise Found (Santa Barbara, CA)

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How does time shape consciousness and consciousness, time? Do we live in time, or does time live in us? And how does music, with its patterns of rhythm and harmony, inform our experience of time?

Uncommon Measure explores these questions from the perspective of a young Korean American who dedicated herself to perfecting her art until performance anxiety forced her to give up the dream of becoming a concert solo violinist. Anchoring her story in illuminating research in neuroscience and quantum physics, Hodges traces her own passage through difficult family dynamics, prejudice, and enormous personal expectations to come to terms with the meaning of a life reimagined—one still shaped by classical music but moving toward the freedom of improvisation.

National Book Award Longlist

Saroyan Prize Shortlist [winners announced late summer/early fall 2024]

NPR “Best Books of the Year” selection

Smithsonian Magazine “Best Books of the Year” selection

Marginalian “Favorite Books of the Year” selection

New York Times “Editors’ Choice” selection

Poets & Writers “Page One” selection

Reading Group Choices “Top Picks” selection

Birdy magazine “Book Club” selection

Publishers Weekly “Books of the Week” selection

BookBrowse “Best Books Publishing This Week” selection

Powell’s Books “Best Books of the Year” selection

Book Castle “Favorite Books of the Year” selection

Walden Pond Books “Best Books of the Year” selection

Odyssey Bookshop “First Editions Club” selection

Seminary Co-op Bookstores “Front Table” selection

Bookish Staff Pick

Excerpt from Uncommon Measure

Uncommon Measure is a New York Times “Editors’ Choice” selection and Poets & Writers “Page One” notable new book of the season. Hear more from Natalie Hodges on NPR All Things Considered and listen to her read from the book at Poets & Writers.

Natalie Hodges discusses the story (and science) behind Uncommon Measure with Michael Pollan at Chaucer’s Books, on the Back From Broken, Creative Process and Delving In podcasts, and with the Harvard Gazette and Brazos Bookstore.

Find resources for your book club discussions about Uncommon Measure at Reading Group Choices.